Saturday :: Feb 19, 2005

Why Would Centrist Dems Talk Compromise When Bush Can't Even Sell His Own Party On Privatization?


by Steve

As Matt noted in his excellent piece late yesterday, there are signs that some Democrats are thinking of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by pushing for compromise with GOP senators on Social Security. But it is important to notice that the GOP is having problems with the issue. As evidence that even the efforts of these compromise Democrats to work with Lindsey Graham would bear questionable fruit, take a look at what Graham’s compromise would look like: he wants to guarantee that low-income beneficiaries will do well with privatized accounts by cutting benefits for all those who make more than $30,000 a year.

Graham said he will soon propose a federal guarantee that those who earn less than $30,000 will do better under a partially privatized Social Security system. He would do this by cutting scheduled benefits only for those making more than $30,000 a year, offering a $500 government contribution to the individual accounts of the low-income workers and providing additional protections against precipitous market drops. "I am trying to get a bipartisan beachhead and have the administration react to it," Graham said. Bush is open to the ideas, Duffy said.

Given that a large part of the system’s solvency problems can be addressed simply by raising the taxation threshold to $120,000 or $150,000 and then changing how the benefits are indexed, I fail to see why any Democrat would work with a Republican on a “compromise” that wipes out the senior safety net for those making over $30,000 a year. Yet that is what the likes of Diane Feinstein, Blanche Lincoln, and Joe Lieberman are thinking of doing.

And if you want proof that it is way too early for Senate Democrats to look for opportunities to cave in on the issue, take a look at this story in today’s Los Angeles Times. It appears that the GOP’s own representatives are so spooked about pushing privatization when they return to their districts for their scripted town hall meetings that many of them don’t plan to bring up Social Security at all unless their constituents do. In fact, it appears there is a lack of desire by some in the GOP caucus of even making Social Security an issue right now, even after Dick Cheney and the leadership have hammered them on it. Clearly, the White House has failed to mobilize its own party on this issue.

So why would these centrist Democrats already be talking compromise?

Steve :: 11:02 AM :: Comments (38) :: Digg It!